Do you love finding hidden gems to explore? If so, then Jones Point Park in Alexandria, Virginia is the place for you!
You’ve probably heard about Alexandria’s Old Town. And possibly Alexandria’s Mount Vernon. But have you heard about Alexandria’s Jones Point Park?
Jones Point Park is a hidden gem close to Alexandria’s Old Town neighborhood. The area is a former shipyard and the original boundary for Washington, DC. Today, the park’s 65 acres provide spectacular views of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, Potomac River, and National Harbor. And, as you’ll read below, so much more!
Use the tips below to plan your visit to Jones Point Park soon!
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Use GPS to get there
When I say Jones Park Point is a hidden gem, I really do mean “hidden”.
While the park is easily accessible from the George Washington Parkway, you have to drive through a residential area to get there.
But GPS is reliable in this case, so just type in “Jones Point Park” and let GPS guide you to your destination.
Take advantage of the free parking
Free parking is a rarity in the Washington, DC area.
However, there are a number of free parking spots at Jones Point Park.
The spots do fill up at popular times. However, don’t worry too much about getting a spot in the parking lot. There is also free street parking in the nearby neighborhood.
Pose with the Woodrow Wilson Bridge
The first thing you’ll notice about Jones Point Park is the soaring concrete columns of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
The Woodrow Wilson Bridge connects Virginia to Maryland. The bridge that exists today was completed in 2008 and replaced an older version with fewer traffic lanes (and a colossal traffic nightmare).
The creation of the new bridge resulted in the added benefit of improvements to the infrastructure of Jones Point Park.
If you arrive at the park near sunrise or sunset, you’ll likely see a number of photographers and their models posing with the bridge. That’s because it creates a spectacular image of tiny human and massive structure.
Make sure to take your own pictures posing with the bridge!
Explore the historic lighthouse
Jones Point Park is home to one of the last river-based lighthouses in the United States.
To get to the lighthouse, you’ll follow a gravel path directly south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
At first, the lighthouse just looks like a regular house. But you’ll notice a lantern on top that once served as a warning light for ships on the Potomac River.
The lighthouse stopped operations in 1926. While you can’t go inside the lighthouse, you can walk around the exterior.
Find the original boundary of Washington, DC
Did you know that the original southern-most tip of Washington, DC was in Alexandria, Virginia? In fact, it was in Jones Point Park!
Back in the 1780s/1790s, Virginia and Maryland ceded land to the federal government to use for Washington, DC. The Virginia portion was eventually ceded back to Virginia. But the historic evidence of the DC boundary marker still remains.
As you walk on the side of the lighthouse closest to the Potomac River, you’ll see a raised glass dome near a fence.
When you peer down into the dome, you’ll see a stone pillar. That pillar marks the original boundary of Washington, DC from 1791!
You’ll see what they call “commemorative” boundary pillars as you walk along the gravel path. However, the pillar beneath the glass dome is the actual southern-most boundary point for Washington, DC.
See a World War I-era boat rudder
Much of Alexandria, Virgina is steeped in layers upon layers of history. The same is true for Jones Point Park.
In addition to hosting a lighthouse and the original southern-most tip of Washington, DC, the area was home to a World War I-era shipyard.
Today, a gigantic wooden rudder from that era is on display underneath the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Stand next to it and marvel at the size of the ships that would have supported such a rudder.
See fantastic views of the Potomac River and National Harbor
One of my favorite things about Jones Point Park is its proximity to the Potomac River.
Sit along the shoreline and watch the boats pass by. Just north, sailboats can be seen on the Potomac River near Alexandria’s sailing school.
To the east, you’ll see amazing views of National Harbor.
And above, you’ll see planes taking off and landing from Ronald Reagan National Airport.
The views are so spectacular that they’re almost surreal.
Go fishing (with a license)
The park has two fishing piers along the Potomac River. Plus, there are a number of great spots along the shoreline where you can fish.
Just make sure to get your fishing license and check all regulations before baiting your hook.
Embrace your inner-athlete
In addition to the soaring Woodrow Wilson Bridge, one of the first things you’ll notice about the park is the number of athletic activities occuring.
You’ll see people playing basketball on the two basketball courts. You’ll see an incredible number of people practicing boxing. You’ll also see people participating in group exercises like yoga.
So bring all your fitness gear to feed upon the athletic environment in the park!
Connect with the Mount Vernon Trail
Beyond the fitness activities above, you can walk, run, and bike along the Mount Vernon Trail, which passes through Jones Point Park.
The Mount Vernon Trail is an incredibly scenic, well-paved multi-use path that runs along the Potomac River from the Rosslyn neighborhood in Arlington down to the Mount Vernon estate.
You can easily park your car at Jones Point Park and hop on the Mount Vernon Trail from there. You’ll see a lot of people doing just that!
Have a river-view picnic
Jones Point Park’s view of the Potomac River makes it a fantastic spot for a picnic.
There are a handful of picnic tables in the park, but they don’t have great views of the river. Plus, there are so few picnic tables that you can’t count on one being available when you visit.
Instead, I recommend that you bring your own chairs and a small, fold-up table to create your own picnic. There is a concrete walkway along the Potomac River just under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge that’s perfect for a picnic set-up.
Walk to Old Town Alexandria
After exploring Jones Point Park, you can walk north on the Mount Vernon Trail to Old Town Alexandria.
There you can explore museums, one-of-a-kind boutique shops, and amazing restaurants.
It’s a great way to experience Old Town Alexandria while also enjoying the outdoor environment of Jones Point Park.
What else to know
Before you head off to Jones Point Park, there are just a few other things to know:
- There are public restrooms in a nice, well-maintained facility.
- No reservations are required for the park or any of its amenities. Everything is first-come, first-serve.
- Parking and access to Jones Point Park are completely free. Both a rarity in the Washington, DC-area!
I hope this article encourages you to visit Jones Point Park. It’s a wonderful place to visit!